Yasmeen Godder is a one-woman show in an imagined fair of wonderland pizzaz

The next section came and unexpectedly, it turned out to be a bona fide workshop session as Godder asked viewers to close their eyes and go through a sort of spiritual guidance and guided imagery.

 YASMEEN GODDER in ‘Practicing Empathy #3.’ (photo credit: TAMAR LAMM)
YASMEEN GODDER in ‘Practicing Empathy #3.’
(photo credit: TAMAR LAMM)

Choreographer/dancer Yasmeen Godder has been a prominent name on our contemporary dance scene for more than two decades. Her latest creation Practicing Empathy #3 a part of a chain under the broader Practicing Empathy title – commenced in 2019 – is composed of three separate elemental links. The first two creations in that series involve spectators and dancers in informal performance spaces, practicing actions that enhance their ties through emotional involvement, paving a way to demonstrate a rising degree of empathy involving trust, which is the designated goal.

Similar techniques were practiced in some of Godder’s earlier creations. She was keen on finding ways to research the issue through various verbal and corporal means that eventually could be expressed through dance.

The process that enabled interaction between audiences and dance professionals, led to a mellow hierarchy by performing on the same stage, and by building close encounters which led to those empathic human contacts, a rather fresh, challenging notion.

Godder had originally planned to do P.E. #3 as a group work. Under the COVID-19 constraints she decided to perform solo for the first time, after years of working with her group. The performance took place on the Suzanne Dellal Center’s stage that was surrounded by chairs for over 50 viewers.

Godder opened with a long set of energetic skips and jumps accompanied by determent hand and feet gestures while making sure she keeps an eye contact during her rounds with each spectator. She got stamina and seemed more fluid than before as she crisscrossed the central space. It was surprising to hear her say that dancing solo didn’t feel natural to her. I wouldn’t have guessed, since this section performed with a tight and concise showmanship, translated into unusually expressive facial innuendos, as if one could see thoughts and fleeting unplanned inner emotions.

In between scenes, Godder introduced several gorgeous, soft and colorful fiber-art sculptured objects made by talented Gili Avishar, and looked for ways to use them, which is what you do with such props.

YASMEEN GODDER’S ‘Exercising Empathy.’ (credit: TAMAR LAM)YASMEEN GODDER’S ‘Exercising Empathy.’ (credit: TAMAR LAM)

The next section came and unexpectedly, it turned out to be a bona fide workshop session as Godder asked viewers to close their eyes and go through a sort of spiritual guidance and guided imagery. The lights on stage were turned down while Godder sat under the only spotlight, illuminated as befitting a Master. Subject-wise, the session section was within the context yet a bit out of sync with the evening’s reasonable flow.

The last part enabled Godder to let herself go far, but stay within her comfort zone. She was the one-woman show in an imagined fair, giving a delightful entertaining act with a wonderland’s pizzazz. She strapped on her body a contraption with a pair of large dolls on it, which enable the “threesome” to dance and be merry while the soft dolls dangled in sync with her moves, exposing a playful facet: Godderish to the core.